Wisconsin

Energy Efficiency Standards

Under current policy, Wisconsin has a statewide energy efficiency program, funded by ratepayers of regulated investor-owned utilities and several municipal and coop utilities, called Focus on Energy. The Public Service Commission has administered Focus on Energy since 2007. According to the commission, energy efficiency spending in Wisconsin is approximately 70% electricity and 30% natural gas efficiency programs.

Wisconsin enacted a spending-based energy efficiency standard known as a Public Benefit Fund (PBF), which requires utilities to fund energy efficiency programs at a level of 1.2% of annual retail revenue. Focus on Energy is currently funded at approximately $95 million annually. Wisconsin has the only PBF in the Midwest.

In Wisconsin's PBF, the utilities collectively contract with Focus on Energy as the statewide program administrator through the Statewide Energy Efficiency and Renewable Administration (SEERA), which contracts with and funds third-party administration to implement not only residential and non-residential energy efficiency programs, but also renewable energy and environmental and economic research and development. Utilities are also allowed to conduct their own energy efficiency programs beyond those funded through the statewide administrator subject to approval by the PSC (the PSC cannot order utilities to conduct additional programs). Current law also allows large customers over 1,000 monthly kWh or 10,000 dekatherms of natural gas to participate in self-directed energy efficiency programs.

Resource Planning

The Wisconsin Public Service Commission (PSC) undertakes a quadrennial review process to "set or revise goals, priorities and measurable targets for the [energy efficiency and renewable energy] programs" paid for by ratepayers under the statewide EE and RE standards. As the result of that review, in November 2010 the PSC ordered changes to the statewide energy efficiency funding model, but that order was overturned by the legislature in early 2011. That docket remains quite active as the commission continues to evaluate energy efficiency and renewable energy programming.

In addition to the quadrennial review, the PSC also conducts a biennial Strategic Energy Assessment (SEA) to assess the adequacy and reliability of the state's energy supply. The SEA evaluates and forecasts energy supply over a seven-year horizon, including the latest completed in mid-2012 that evaluates years 2012-2018.

Rate Structures & Incentives

Cost Recovery

Utilities are entitled to recover the costs associated with funding Focus on Energy through the utilities’ rates. The PSC can also approve cost recovery for utilities that engage in additional energy efficiency programming beyond the PBF on a case-by-case basis.

Lost Revenue Recovery

The Wisconsin PSC approves lost revenue recovery mechanisms on a case-by-case basis. Relatedly, the commission approved decoupling as a "Revenue Stabilization Mechanism" and allowed the Wisconsin Public Service Corporation (WPSC) to pursue a four-year pilot program. WPSC asked that decoupling be continued past the end of the pilot in 2012. Wisconsin Power and Light has also been approved for decoupling for natural gas.

Utility Incentives

Utilities can propose incentives as part of their rate cases for the voluntary utility-administered EE programs that are outside of the Focus on Energy program. The incentive is in the form of shared savings. Alliant Energy (WP&L) has received commission approval to utilize the shared savings mechanism for one of the programs it offers beyond the Focus on Energy program.  

Noncompliance Penalties

There are no direct monetary penalties for noncompliance within Wisconsin’s statewide efficiency program.

Stakeholder Collaboration

Utilities that fund Focus on Energy meet collaboratively as part of the Statewide Energy Efficiency and Renewable Administration process that hires and funds Focus on Energy administrators, and as part of the ongoing engagement with the Focus on Energy model. Focus on Energy and the utilities also conduct periodic trade-ally meetings. Energy efficiency planning collaborative meetings in Wisconsin are not open to the public. Separately, there is no formal collaborative process open to all interested stakeholders.

Program Evaluation

Wisconsin’s energy efficiency program evaluation is conducted under the guidance of the statewide Focus on Energy program administrator. Programs are evaluated annually.

Cost-effectiveness Testing

Wisconsin primarily uses the Total Resource Cost (TRC) test for determining the cost-effectiveness of energy efficiency programs, though the Program Administrator Cost Test (PACT) and the Societal Cost Test (SCT) are also used.

Net vs. Gross

Wisconsin energy efficiency program evaluations report both gross and net savings. Net savings calculations include measurement of both free rider and spillover effects.

Technical Reference Manual

Business sector programs have a Technical Resource Manual (TRM), known as the Deemed Savings Manual v1.0. Evaluation materials and reports for business sector programs are available on Focus on Energy's website.

Residential programs in Wisconsin do not have a TRM that is as well-defined as that on the business side. The residential programs also use a deemed savings model, but documentation of those savings is not condensed into a single document. Typically, savings are included as appendices to the evaluation reports in which they are used, rather than as a stand-alone TRM. Residential sector deemed savings are reviewed periodically. Deemed savings reviews, evaluation reports and other documentation of residential sector programs are available from Focus on Energy.

State Energy Plan or Vision

In 2008, the Wisconsin Task Force on Global Warming finalized an action plan to create policy recommendations for addressing the reduction of global warming-causing emissions within the state. The action plan included energy efficiency, renewable energy and a proposed carbon-trading schema. With the subsequent change of administrations, that plan has not been updated and Wisconsin does not have an up-to-date comprehensive statewide energy vision document.

State Agency Energy Reduction Requirement

Wisconsin's Department of Administration (DoA), Division of State Facilities, houses the State of Wisconsin Performance Contracting program that allows the DoA to enter into contracts with Energy Service Companies (ESCOs) to develop and implement energy cost saving measures for state buildings. The program includes guidelines for ESCO contracting and a list of approved ESCOs.

EE in New State Buildings

Former Governor Doyle's Executive Order No. 145 (2006) required the Department of Administration to set energy efficiency goals for state facilities, office buildings, complexes and campuses. New state facilities were required to be 30% more efficient than the state's commercial building code.

Governor Walker's Executive Order No. 63 (2012) revised and superseded the previous order reducing the efficiency goal to 10% above code, reflecting a decreased stringency in the commercial building code.

Key Policymaker Contacts